Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Is It Better To Ask For A Specific Amount Or A Broad Range?

August 11th, 2014 by Karen Climer

A common tactic in major gift asks is to use a range.  For example, “Would you consider a gift in the range of $10,000-$15,000?”  I personally like the single number ask, but I know some people find it easier to ask for a range.  I have always counseled clients that this was fine, but to know that the donor was most likely going to give $10,000 not $15,000.  I heard something the other day that changed my mind about using a range…

When you ask for "a gift in the range on $25,000 to $50,000," it sounds like you are throwing numbers at the wall and hoping something sticks.  Try asking for a gift of $25,000.

When you ask for “a gift in the range on $25,000 to $35,000,” it sounds like you are throwing numbers at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Jerry Panas says not to use a range for two reasons.  As mentioned above, the floor becomes the ceiling.  Worse than that, it sounds like you are throwing some numbers against the wall and hoping something will stick.  He’s right.

Recently, I heard an organization ask our local government for a gift in the range of $10-$12 million.  When I heard it, I thought, “Well, there’s a big difference between $10 million and $12 million.  Have these people figured out the project budget or are they just fishing for money?”  For years, I’ve been telling people that ranges are fine – an ask of $10-$12 million is fine.  But when I listened to that ask as an outsider, I didn’t like the range.  It sounded like they weren’t prepared and hadn’t done their research.  In reality, they probably were prepared, and expected $10 million, but they went with conventional wisdom (which I subscribed to until last week) that said ranges are fine.

I think Jerry Panas has the right idea.  When you ask for a range, it comes across to the donor as a hail mary pass.  You are just hoping and praying it will work.  Try asking for a single amount next time.

Posted in Asking, Major Gifts

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